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Shutting Down Our Universities! By Gbemiga Ogunleye

If Federal Government officials who have demonstrated absolute incompetence and insensitivity by keeping our children at home when they should be in school studying, deserve to be tied to the stakes, then officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, too, deserve to be flogged publicly at the market square!
For, as they say, two wrongs don’t make a right! The cause of the strike is too well known to be stated here. Besides, this article does not seek to apportion blame. My concern is the plight of the students and to explore whether ASUU could have done things differently, especially, when dealing with people who are either stone deaf or genuinely unreasonable! To be sure, without the struggles of ASUU, public universities would have probably collapsed. Thanks to ASUU, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, was set up to provide the needed infrastructure and other ancillary facilities to the universities. But in my view, after going on strike for three months, without the government meeting its demands, it should be clear to the union that another option, other than strike ought to be explored. By extending the strike by another three months, ASUU is unconsciously aiding the government officials to destroy the future of the younger generation. The implications of keeping young children at home when they should be in school are probably lost on both ASUU and the government. The idle mind, they say, is the playground for the devil.
For a country still reeling from the disastrous effects of over 10 million out-of-school children, it beggars belief that it could afford to close down public universities for three months and officials of the state are not bothered. To add insult to the proverbial injury, those who are charged with the responsibility of resolving the ASUU crisis are busy campaigning and preparing for next year’s general election.
As a social critic, Tunde Fagbenle would say: What a country? On the part of the university lecturers, they are obviously sold on the idea that the only language government understands, is the language of the strike. But now that the government has turned a deaf ear to their grievances, shouldn’t they adopt another strategy? Couldn’t ASUU, for instance, have taken a cue from our women, who after the bills on women empowerment were rejected by the National Assembly, staged a series of protests at the National Assembly until the lawmakers promised to revisit the bills. Couldn’t ASUU have embarked on advocacy campaigns to our leading traditional rulers and elder statesmen (and women) on the need for them to make the government see reason. There is also the issue of the wisdom in embarking on a strike when political office holders are all busy, seeking reelection or reappointment.
Wouldn’t it be a better option for ASUU to table its grievances before the presidential aspirants of the political parties and invite them to an ASUU forum for them to discuss their plans for the education sector if elected next year. As the intellectual powerhouse of the country, wouldn’t it have been more beneficial to us all, if ASUU took interest in the ongoing process to amend the Constitution by proferring far-reaching constitutional amends like scrapping one arm of the National Assembly; making the legislature a part-time business, with members only being paid sitting allowances; limiting the number of ministers and commissioners to a manageable number, etc.
These actions will free up resources to be used to fund education. Rather, without blinking an eye, the union announced with glee that it was extending the three-month old strike by another three months, without considering the effect on not only the future of the students but also the interest of their poor parents who have laboured to send them to school. Perhaps the union took this step, confident that even if it went on strike for a year, nothing spoil, to borrow a street lingo. Their salaries and allowances would still be paid.
Now that university undergraduates have begun a series of protests over the continued closure of their campuses, ASUU should be ready to share part of the blame, should anything untoward happens to these students. Prolonging this strike is an ill wind that will do the country no good.
ASUU should be courageous enough to announce to the country, that following calls from well-meaning Nigerians and in consideration of the interests of the students and their parents, it has suspended the ongoing strike.
That, in my view, is the path of honour.

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Governor Ortom Mourns Elder Statesman, Paul Unongo

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed deep pains over the death of an elder statesman Dr Paul Unongo, saying “we have lost a pathfinder and leader of an inestimable value.”

Unongo, a former Minister of Power and Steel in the Second Republic, died at 87 in Jos, Plateau State on Tuesday.

Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel Ikyur on Wednesday in Makurdi quoted his principal in a statement, describing Unongo him as a father figure who led the emancipation of the ordinary citizens without ethnic or religious barriers.

“The leadership role Unongo played in the political evolution of Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

“He was a mentor to many leaders of today who have great ideas for the socio-political and economic development of the country.

Ortom said Benue’s Iroko tree and one of the last icons of political leadership in Nigeria has fallen, adding that Unongo’s contributions to the politics of the country from post-independence till date cannot be quantified.

“Indeed the state has lost a leader and mentor. His death has created a vacuum that will be difficult to refill.

“We shall miss his intellect, great ideas, oratory prowess and immense capacity for mobilisation and organisation of the people.

“I am consoled that Unongo’s legacies of patriotism, pan Nigerian and philanthropy will endure.

“The state will do the needful to immortalise Unongo for his selfless services and contributions to the development of the state,”Ortom said.

He prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest and the immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Unongo too from over Maitama Sule as the chairman of the Northern Elders’ Forum. In 2017.

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BREAKING: Court Jails Student Over Tweet On Aisha Buhari

An Abuja court has sent a university student, Aminu Muhammad, to prison over a post on Twitter mocking first lady Aisha Buhari.

The student, according to BBC Hausa Service, was sent to prison on Tuesday.

The student’s lawyer, CK Agu, told BBC that the judge has refused to grant his client bail.

Mr Aminu was remanded in prion custody till December 5, 2022, the lawyer said.

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Top ISWAP Commander Killed In Airstrike In Lake Chad Region

A top commander of the Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), Muhammad Malik has been killed by troops of the air task force in the Lake Chad region.

Zagazola Makama, a publication focused on the Lake Chad region reported that Malik died on November 29 from the fatal injuries he sustained during the attack.

Nigerian troops were said to have launched a coordinated intelligence-led aerial and ground operation and targeted the jihadist group’s location in the Sabon Tumbun area of Lake Chad on November 24.

This attack was also said to have led to the killing of scores of fighters.

Malik is said to have been a member of the Shura Council in Marte before he went for a course in computer engineering and improvised explosive device (IED) making, sponsored by ISIS in Somalia.

On his return, he reportedly established IED training units where fighters were trained in deploying explosives during attacks.

In the last few months, the Nigerian military has been recording a series of successes in the fight against insurgency in the Lake Chad region and other northern states.

Troops had recently repelled an attack by insurgents at Wawa cantonment in Borgu LGA of Niger state as well as the killing of three commanders of ISWAP in Borno.



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